District of Columbia:

Observations on Supplemental Budget Request for Public Safety Programs

GGD-97-89R: Published: May 5, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1997.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority's fiscal year (FY) 1997 supplemental appropriation request of $15.2 million for public safety programs.

GAO noted that: (1) the Authority's supplemental budget request for public safety programs was based on the estimated costs of implementing two major recommendations of a recent Booz-Allen & Hamilton study of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD); (2) on the basis of Booz-Allen's finding that District police officers are paid less, on average, than officers in other police departments in the region, the Control Board on behalf of MPD has requested $8.8 million to fund an immediate 10 percent pay raise for District police officers for the last 6 months of FY 1997; (3) on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the Booz-Allen study, MPD stated that it has recently implemented changes in its operations that included placing an additional 400 police officers on the street and taking a more proactive, community-policing approach to law enforcement; (4) according to the District, arrests have increased substantially since these changes were implemented in early March 1997; (5) MPD and the Authority expect this higher level of arrests to continue through the remainder of FY 1997, leading to additional workload and costs for the Pretrial Services Agency, the D.C. Superior Court, which includes probation services, the Office of Corporation Counsel, and the Department of Corrections; (6) the Authority has requested a total of about $6.4 million to fund this additional workload through the end of FY 1997; (7) as the Booz-Allen study suggested, to be effective, any pay raise should be part of a broader plan to enhance MPD; (8) on the basis of GAO's prior work on personnel performance management issues, GAO agrees with Booz-Allen that having effective performance management standards for officers and other MPD personnel is an important step to help ensure that District citizens, Congress, and other stakeholders benefit from any pay increase; (9) the Authority's justification for the pay raise supplemental request indicates that the raise would be tied to performance standards and changes in work rules; (10) if MPD's enhanced enforcement efforts continue to result in additional arrests, it seems logical to assume that the additional arrests would also result in increased workload and costs for the entire District criminal justice system, including pretrial services, adjudication, probation, and incarceration; (11) the Authority has requested an additional $4.9 million to house additional inmates resulting from the new policing initiatives instituted in March 1997; and (12) GAO has no basis on which to question or support the need for, or the reasonableness of, this request.

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